Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bring Back Play and Disorganized Sports to Our Children

When asking children: 
What is your favorite part of school?
    It is not uncommon to get this answer:  
      I still like to play :)
      Sadly, in schools today, recess is on it's way toward extinction.  On a parenting group I belong to, student's back to school schedules were shared.  Sadly, very few included time for recess. Yet at a recent conference I listened to brain researcher John Medena  who shared that activity, movement, and exercise is crucial for boosting brain power.  Not only does play make you smarter, this article points to play being a great way to alleviate ADD / ADHD symptoms. Unfortunately, educators are in a state of panic in our test prep obsessed education system, no longer able to think clearly about what is truly best for our children. 

      If today's teachers and administrators had the opportunity to pull themselves away from the worksheets and bubblesheets they would find that play is an essential component of student success as pointed to in the article Can We Play by Psychologist David Elkin.  In the article Elkin shares that recess is already extinct in more than 30,000 U.S. schools that have eliminated recess to make more time for academics and that children’s time spent outdoors has fallen 50 percent since the 1990s.

      This isn't just a problem in schools either.  While parents today are racing to get their kids into organized sports, programs and extra tutoring, decades of research has shown that play is crucial to physical, intellectual, and social- emotional development at all ages. Elkin points out that this is especially true of the purest form of play: the unstructured, self-motivated, imaginative, independent kind, where children initiate their own games and even invent their own rules.  Not only is this great for kids, it also happens to be free for parents!

      Elkin warns us that while play is on the decline, it essential to leading a happy and healthy life. Read the whole article along with the research he points to here. You can check out this story about play on NPR here. You can read Linda Dobson's recent article about play here.

      Design by Free Wordpress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Templates